[Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God)

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Reichu
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:44 pm

View Original PostRei IV wrote:Man, I think I may need to re-read this entire fanfic again because I have almost forgotten about some major characters, plot points, and etc.....Everything is a blur

There's a (mostly) up-to-date character list in the first post for this very reason. Although, yeah, I am deliberately writing this to be the kind of story that would ultimately benefit from one or more re-readings.

I'm SO anticipating Misato's reaction to this mess, if she ever finds out.

"When I said Dad was a cock-sucker, I didn't mean it literally! .....Gross!!! :yuck:"

View Original PostNemZ wrote:Yeah, I'd wager Reichu's Akira is (...)

As opposed to all of the other Akiras under discussion with whom he might get confused? :tongue:

While developing CM over the years, I was always curious how readers would react to and interpret the information that's gradually unveiled. Now that we're finally getting to the point where the story's status quo is being violently agitated, there's a very strong urge on my part to just come out and say what's happening. But, really, what fun would that be? :devil:
Avatar: "That's right. I'm a gay robot." (David 8 image by Junseo)
Crying Man
(Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God): Read at AO3 & Discuss Here.
Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

"Fighting idiocy is like fighting a hydra. Cut off one head, two more grow back and need to tell you their uninformed opinion." - PeeJee, Something*Positive

Reichu
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Sat Mar 26, 2016 3:27 pm

Chapter 14 -- which, after its second and hopefully final name change, is now called "Tension" -- is FINALLY coming along. I got MugwumpHasNoLiver on board my wild ride, and both his insight as a fellow writer (with both wildly divergent and delightfully similar sensibilities) and enthusiasm for the project have been great motivators.

Since this chapter will be fairly long and dense, it feels appropriate to follow up on that "preview" with the next bit of more-or-less finished text. The rest (including my comments and notes) will be coming within the week, if my brain cooperates. Look forward to it... :devil:

Ch. 14, Pt. B  SPOILER: Show
Akira absently lets the phone fall to the floor as both his hands rush to cover his face. He clings at the moistened skin, trying desperately to hide the ungainly distortions brought on by yet more old pain bursting free. He thought that talking to Taro would make him feel better, and yet Akira only feels worse than before. So much worse. He whimpers without a sound, his throat so constricted that an invisible assailant may as well be throttling him.

It's just as he feared. Any comfort gained was all too transient, if not illusory. The interpersonal distance between them now is so great that no true warmth could bridge the divide. And his fears about himself are already proving true. He's hurting so much that he's spiraling out of control. He was actually contemplating——! Taro did catch him, stop him, but even so… even so…

...there won't always be someone there to say “no”.

'I wish you could have kept some of that happiness for yourself', Taro said. Akira very nearly had it with Taro. He had someone who loved and accepted him, unconditionally. But even at the brightest of times, life was cruel. Akira couldn't love him back, not in the same way Taro loved him. Good conscience forced him to end it before they parted ways to their respective colleges.

Though it inevitably hurt, their deep mutual understanding prevented any immediate or lingering bitterness. They kept tabs on each other after that. After a rocky start, Taro went on to joy and success, while Akira, after a promising one, ultimately deteriorated into a lowly, pitiful parasite… endlessly feeding upon others and giving nothing back.

He wishes it weren't this way. He wishes the happiness he thought he had earlier today was real.

As hard as he tries, he can't help but remember what his father used to tell him. Every time life went sour for the young Akira, the elder Katsuragi would, without fail, invoke the name of God. Everything that happened was the ineffable will of the Lord. And… “Until you give your heart to Him, Akira, there will be nothing but darkness for you.”

It was cruelly ironic, as Akira's name was intended to mean the exact opposite: “bright” or “luminant”. Perhaps it didn't really matter, since kanji for personal names had been abolished after World War II and, legally, his name was a meaningless cluster of syllables like everyone else's. However, there was nothing to stop someone from writing their name however they desired in informal contexts, and his parents had made their intent perfectly clear. They had christened him their beacon of hope, that he would shine with the brilliance of the holy spirit, maybe even become a member of the clergy. And he has done nothing but disappoint them.

There was a time when Akira was able to live and thrive in spite of everything, but not anymore. There is no brightness within Akira's life, he can see that quite clearly. Everywhere, there is desolation, a thick suffocating haze, a void where nothing can thrive nor even take root but life-sucking emptiness. And yet he feels unbearable pain, a burden so great and thick there seems no way to relieve himself of it. Clearly, pain is something and not nothing. It doesn't quite make sense. Perhaps, given the paradoxical nature of humanity, it doesn't have to.

He doesn't want to feel this way. There is something within him that feels he probably deserves it — but he doesn't actually like it. He would rather feel nothing. Or, better yet, be nothing. If only Akira could make it true. But it is one thing to yearn for nonexistence with all your being, and quite another to actually bring it about. Yet one more way in which he is a poor Japanese, and a perennial disappointment to the rigid, pious Kazuo Katsuragi.

So what, then? What can he do? How can he escape this feeling, escape himself? He doesn't know. There's nowhere to go. Nowhere that's safe. Even here, in the intellectual sanctuary of his office, he's begging to be caught in this position of utmost vulnerability. Anyone could walk through his door if they chose, and see him like this… He can't be so weak here. He can't show his true colors. Nobody here but Haru can know the full extent of his suffering. Nobody.

Somehow, Akira has managed to go all these years with little incident. It's hard to believe, thinking back on it. There's no possible way his affliction is a true secret. Perhaps he's just been incredibly lucky. He's known others for whom that wasn't the case. Rumors about mental illness would circulate and then, one semester, they would vanish from the campus, just like that. And that could easily be him. One wrong move and he'll be stigmatized as something far worse than an intellectual pariah: one of the psychologically irregular.

Sayaka and Misato… It's tempting to worry about them, but deep down he knows he doesn't have to. Push comes to shove, Yura will take care of them. But if Akira became marked, he would struggle to ever find work in his field again. At least, not without also leaving Japan for a less backwards society. And that's been established as a non-option… hasn't it?

There's too much at stake, and almost nobody understands that. Not even Taro could.

Maybe… Maybe if this is how it has to be, then being forced to work outside Japan would in the best interest of everyone.

Akira hunkers toward his lap, letting his arms wrap protectively round his breast. He gazes, unfocused, into the dark space below his desk, wishing he had the option of crawling down there and bawling at full volume. But he can't. All he can do is suffer his pain in complete silence.

However much time goes by, Akira doesn't seem to move at all. Not even the vibrations of his phone on the cheap carpeting below prompt so much as a twitch. His gaze is vast and empty, yet remains framed by residual misery. His clutch upon himself feels both feeble and ironcast at once.

A knock arrives on the door. Another, and Akira violently jerks back into a state of alertness. “I'm here,” he says, naturally as possible. Reflexively rubbing his face against his sleeve, he adds, “Please come in.”

It's Seito Yamagiri. The younger man — a tanned and toned Osaka native — peeks in. “Sorry to bother you, Katsuragi-sempai. Just wanted to give you a head's-up on this Thursday.”

“Oh?”

Seito sees himself in all the way. “Some deadline issues have come up, so neither of us will be able to make it. After that, though, things should go back to normal.”
Akira nods. “I'll note it in my calendar.”

“So...” Seito casually leans against the doorway. “...how are you feeling? You pushed yourself pretty hard today.”

Akira allows an automatic response. “Aches haven't hit me yet, but they will. They always do.” He forces a smile.

“It gets better, sempai. Hang in there.”

Keeping his current circumstances partitioned feels impossible, and he glances away somberly. “I'm trying.”

Seito's eyes narrow. “Are you okay, sempai? Something up?”

Akira gets to his feet and quickly pockets his hands. He tries looking his kouhai in the eyes. Although what seems to be genuine compassion lay within, Akira's immediate impulse is to escape it. The entirety of his being feels emotionally flayed, and the scrutiny of less vulnerable eyes is as the elements hazing an open wound. “It's kind of you to ask, Seito-kun…” He trails off, further words congealing on his tongue.

Yamagiri doesn't take it personally. “I'm sorry. It's not my business to pry. Bad habit, really.”

The unexpected self-deprecation causes Akira to relax a nonce and let a chuckle escape his lips. “Don't sweat that stuff with me, Sei-Sei. My own habits were never outstanding.” He laughs again when he realizes he self-demonstrated. “Sorry — Seito-kun...”

The younger man grins. “Don't worry, Katsuragi-sempai. Okadome-san isn't even in the building right now.”

“Yes, well…” Hearing the name of his supervisor causes Akira to absentmindedly straighten his collar and tie. “It's important to not let improved habits slip back down.”

“True enough.” Seito takes a sip from his water bottle, then regards Akira thoughtfully. “You've been doing good. Everyone notices the difference the past month has made.”

“Th-thank you, Seito-kun...”

“But, well, Hiro-kun and me… and a lot of the other post-grads… It's hard not to miss the old you sometimes. You always stuck out.”

“Hard not to, being this tall,” Akira says.

“That's not really what I mean. Yeah, I guess it's part of it, but only a small part. There's something about you that's different from everyone else. Even if you try to fit in, you really can't.”

Akira feels increasingly uncomfortable. He sits back down and swerves ninety degrees, his gaze averted. Perhaps if he stops feeding into this surreal social situation, it will simply go away.

“S-sorry, Katsuragi-sempai! You know I'm not really good with words…” Akira can easily imagine Seito waving a hand around and grabbing the back of his head in embarrassment. “What I mean to say is, it's a good thing. Whatever it is about you that Okadome-san doesn't like, don't change it too much, alright? Don't become somebody else.”

Akira's mouth hangs open helplessly. Seito hasn't stopped talking. Akira's mind wants to just pretend that he's accidentally hearing words that aren't meant for him, like eavesdropping the next conversation over at a bar. But hearing his own name doesn't let that illusion work for long.

“The students are the ones who really matter, you know? And you were always there for them. For us. Even when other professors weren't. You're the only one in this department who hasn't completely forgotten what it was like to be a student yourself. You know you're the best teacher we have, right?”

He caresses his pendant nervously and forces himself to look back in Seito's direction. “Thanks, Seito-kun. I appreciate the kind words.” His own are stilted and forced, coming from a place opposite conviction.

But Seito is unflappable. “Whatever it is you're going through, Katsuragi-sempai…… I'm young and stupid, so I won't pretend I can help. But if you ever want to grab a drink or something, shoot the shit… Hell, you can join Hiro-kun and I later on if you want. Might help take the edge off.”

“Okay.” Akira nods vaguely toward Seito. “Alright. Maybe I will.”

Seito sees himself out. “Take it easy, sempai.”

“You too, Seito.”

The door shuts, and then he's alone again. Akira continues to rub the cross and stare uneasily at it, or perhaps even through it, for a while. Seito's spiel couldn't have come at a much worse time. Even though most of what he had to say was very complimentary, there was something about the way he said it that resulted in every drop of kindness being swiftly evaporated. The implication of his kouhai's words is clear.

You can't gain anything without losing something equally important.

No… maybe the younger man didn't actually mean something so cruel. But it's very tempting to believe it. It fits so well.

You can't be everything Okadome wants without sacrificing everything that makes you a good teacher.

You can't achieve full personal satisfaction in your relationship without risking the loss of that very relationship.

You can't have both intellectual consummation and emotional consummation. You have to choose one.

And it goes on and on. He feels his mind's eye skim over the full contents of his life, and he sees the same thing again and again. As much as he tries, he can't escape it. No matter how much two things might not seem to be mutually exclusive, he is only ever able to hold onto one. Even as he thinks it, he knows he's succumbing to one of the most well-documented frailties of human cognition, and yet he can't bring himself to care. The emotional reality will always take precedence, leaving the intellectual one coughing on dust and struggling to catch up.

Akira lets his pendant dangle once more and lurches over the side of his chair to retrieve his phone. As soon as he pops it open, he's notified of what he missed. Two new text messages, and one missed call. He's afraid to look, but at the same time there's the very real possibility that Haru tried to get in touch. He's the only one who stands any chance of soothing Akira's nerves right now. Even if he's still unavailable, just knowing that his best friend has heard and acknowledged his plea for help would be so much better than the persisting silence.

First, though… First he should update his calendar with what Seito told him. Akira transfers the information to both his phone calendar and to his conventional bound planner. With that out of the way, he returns to his phone's home screen, and re-reads the notifications. 2 new text messages. 1 missed call. Again, and again. He's not really sure what he's deliberating over, why he doesn't just get it over with. What is he expecting to see? How bad could it possibly be? Akira stares at the tiny screen for so long that it dims more than once, requiring the tap of a neutral button to brighten it again.

In the end, he powers it down and sets it on his desk. Even that is too much, however; its very presence feels like a thorn in his side. He needs to remove it from sight completely. Gazing around his office, soon his eyes stumble upon his gym duffel — the same one that accompanied him to the love hotel, and still holds the contents of the ill-conceived present. Akira casts the phone within, then ceremoniously seals every zipper and flap before finally shoving the bag into a dark corner where he doesn't have to see it.

Akira sits down at his desk and tries to distract himself with the test papers once more. He's able to make some progress, possibly because the physiological need to cry is no longer crippling him. But even so, every time he glances up toward the front of his desk, he is met by the faces of Sayaka, Misato, and Kimiko — and even his own — silently judging him. No matter that the photos are uniformly from Akira's few idyllic moments; that just makes their mockery all the more effective.

One after another, Akira rotates the photos ninety degrees so that they face the nearest opposing wall rather than him. The only left untouched is the odd picture out, that of Great-Aunt Kaworu. Akira finishes grading the paper he's on, then turns toward her image. As he regards her pure, angelic visage, he clutches the pendant and his chest heaves with the deepest sigh.

His grandparents always relayed the tale with great enthusiasm: how the very young Akira saw Kaworu's image and, not yet knowing who she was or what she was named, deemed her to be his own heavenly protector. She is, perhaps, the only survivor of his parents' determined efforts to devastate his potential for whimsical superstitions. Akira eventually did stop talking about her in terms of a guardian angel, but he's not sure he ever really stopped feeling it, deep down. He never met her — it was impossible, as she died long before he was even conceived — and yet he feels with every fiber of his being as though he knows her.

Sometimes he contemplates whether this sense of intuitive connection is anything like what his parents feel — and wish he felt in turn — for God. If so, his own conviction has slightly more substance to it, for — quite unlike God — Kaworu was able to express herself without need for unreliable intermediaries. Whatever she wanted to say, she was able to say it herself. And he's read everything that remains. Kaworu's journals are his holy books.

Akira is overwhelmingly lucky to have them. His maternal grandparents had been holding onto everything Kaworu left behind, unsure of its ultimate fate. Right before Akira left Nagoya for Kyoto, they told him that Kaworu's legacy would bypass their daughter and Akira's mother Chika — who had always shown little interest — and go directly to Akira. Without a permanent residence, Akira took only the pendant with him at that time. He came back years later for the rest, not long before both of his grandparents passed away. Ever since, the collection of journals has been enshrined on the top of the bookshelf in Akira's study. Ultimately, he wishes to see them published and Kaworu Igara's legacy rightfully shared with the world — but that, like so many other things in his life, has yet to happen.

He often wonders how different his life might have been if Aunt Kaworu had lived to old age. It's an ultimately futile thought, for the obvious reason that the resultant impact on the Igara family and beyond would be so significant it's a certainty that Akira himself would never have been born. Dwelling upon it too much quickly becomes surreal. In a cosmic sense, could it be said that Kaworu Igara died so that Akira Katsuragi could live?

All too easily, he can imagine his parents saying that it was all part of God's plan. Kaworu's tragic death to a disease that could perhaps, today, be identified and treated? It wasn't meaningless at all; it was God's will! And, of course, nothing God does can possibly be meaningless, since deities only exist in the first place to provide meaning to those who cannot get it any other way. Or perhaps not. Perhaps Aunt Kaworu and Sayaka prove that there is more to it than that, and his own poor experiences just incline him to cynicism.

He wishes things could be different. As much as he doesn't want his father to be right about anything, Akira also wishes with all his heart that he could possess whatever it is that Sayaka and Aunt Kaworu share. How nice it would be if human suffering weren't ultimately meaningless. If it was actually part of a plan. Would that his misery meant something in this vast, cold universe, as opposed to being merely the unfortunate byproduct of a most elaborate chemical dance.

In a different world, Aunt Kaworu might be able to explain his pain in terms he'd understand, without resort to the cruel God worshiped by his parents. It's an appealing fantasy. But that's all it is. Kaworu Igara is dead and gone, and gods are not a thing that exist anywhere but the human mind. Akira is on his own.

******

By the time he escapes the confines of his office, darkness has fallen. It seems Yamagiri has left, and perhaps it's just as well. There are others around, of course, but no one with whom Akira wishes to speak. The feeling is apparently mutual, and Akira is able to make a bathroom run, brew some tea, and return to his sanctuary without incident.

As he nurses his mug, he continues marking up the pile of tests. Before long, he notices that the light for his office voice mail is blinking. Someone must have called while he was gone. Anxiously, he glances at the caller ID — but, to his surprise, there is none. It's an unlisted number. That rules out Sayaka and Haru… and, for that matter, every other person he can think of who would have real reason to call him here. Just in case, though, he hits “play”. The voice is totally unfamiliar and almost certainly foreign. It hasn't the chance to say more than a few words before Akira hits “delete”, returning to his professorial duties without another thought.

About a half hour passes. He's made good progress. Surprising, as he really did believe tonight would entirely unproductive. Another thirty minutes and he'll have survived to the end of today's shift. He's not sure he's quite ready to go home, nor of the mood to tell Sayaka as much. But thinking about that ahead of time is unnecessary; he should stay focused and keep the pace up. Akira stretches his arms and gets back to work.

Not a minute goes by before the phone rings. Sayaka this time, surely? And……. no, it isn't. It's the mystery number again. Curious. Akira caps his pen and answers.

“Hello,” he says, “Dr. Katsuragi here.”

“Ah, Dr. Katsuragi! So pleased to speak with you at last.” An exuberant, articulate male voice. And with the same glaring accent as before.

Akira immediately wonders why he dismissed the message so readily, as it's immediately clear that the speaker's native tongue is Akira's own second language. That in and of itself shouldn't legitimize the caller, of course, but it's difficult not to feel an illogical kinship over such details. Who in the world could this be? “May I… ask who's calling?”

“Of course. I am the director of the United Nations' Commission for the Sciences. My name is Lukas von Frisch.”

Akira becomes slack-jawed. The director? Inadvertently, he blurts out, “Why would the director of an important organization be using an unlisted number?” But that name… Something about it does feel familiar, in the vaguest possible way.

There's a tepid chuckle on the other end. “You find that discomforting, Dr. Katsuragi? I can call back on a different device if you would prefer.”

Cradling the receiver between his ear and shoulder, Akira begins to rummage for the bottom of his desk's “in” tray. “N-no,” he stutters, “that won't be necessary. I'm sure you're legitimate. Please go on.”

And so the sonorous, distinguished-sounding voice does. “I believe you've been acquainted with our human resources department. Agent Chiyoe Tatsuta, to be precise.” In spite of the obvious accent, Frisch's Japanese is essentially flawless. Though… there's something subtly irksome about his overall speech pattern.

Akira finds the padded A4-sized envelope, one corner marked by the return address of Tatsuta's office in Tokyo. It's the summary report on his research, a copy of which he requested during their meeting. Feels like an eternity ago. Akira never opened it; by the time it arrived, he had other things on his mind. “Ah, yes…” he murmurs, absentmindedly struggling to get the envelope open. No use — it's quite secure and will require a bladed implement.

“Is this a bad time, Dr. Katsuragi?” Frisch asks.

“N-no,” Akira says. He sets the report aside; whatever he wanted to check can wait a few minutes. “Apologies. Please continue.”

There's a faint sound, perhaps the click of a lighter. “I am to understand that you've been dodging Tatsuta-san's calls? …… May I ask why?”

“I… Uh…” Akira starts to futz with his hair. “We actually have spoken since the initial meet-up. …Once, I think.”

A brief pause on Frisch's end. “Ah, yes. On September 29, to be precise. You had not yet made a decision regarding our proposal at that time, correct?”

“That's right,” Akira affirms.

“And do you remain undecided, Dr. Katsuragi?” Somehow, Frisch's question comes off as congenial and menacing all at once.

“I—” Akira tries to swallow the lump in his throat. “I haven't been sure of my answer. I have another month to think about it. Don't I?”

Frisch hums. “Indeed, you do. We would have preferred to not be left in the dark, all the same.”

“I understand… But…” Akira scratches the back of his head. “Tatsuta-san has a way about her. She can be unpleasant to deal with. Very… coercive. Needlessly so, I think.”

“I'm aware,” Frisch replies. “She is a rather divisive woman. However, it is her job to get results. Normally, there's very little that escapes her. Perhaps, in retrospect, she was the wrong match for you?”

“Perhaps, yes,” Akira agrees. “But she did accomplish her fundamental goal. I received all the information required to inform my final decision. And I do have to admit that the offer is alluring.”

“—But?” Frisch prompts.

“But… I can't commit one way or another.” A deep breath. “Not yet.”

“I see,” Frisch says. “I do respect your desire to take your time with this, Dr. Katsuragi. It's within your rights. The offer will, of course, be going nowhere until another month passes. At the same time, the two months is a formality. We obviously prefer it not take prospective enlistees that long to decide.”

Akira bites his lip. “I— Yes, I can understand that…”

“'I can't commit',” Frisch repeats with a thoughtful tone. “You haven't said yes — though, significantly, you won't say no. May I take that to mean you are still on the fence about this?”

Akira can't deny it. “I suppose so…”

“That is where I come in, Dr. Katsuragi. I believe I may be able to expedite your decision. I would like to discuss the matter with you further, if I may. Learn of any concerns and questions you may have. Do my best to address them. Present additional information that may help sway your opinion.” He pauses for what seems to be mere effect. “In person, as soon as possible.”

“I— I really don't know…” Akira blurts ineffectually.

Frisch keeps coming, solid as steel. “Are you waiting on anything specific? Other job offers?”

“No…” It doesn't even occur to Akira to lie. The truth slips out, wholly unfettered.

“All I need is an hour of your time, Dr. Katsuragi. Two at the absolute most, if we take transit into consideration. I truly feel as though Tatsuta mishandled you, and I would like to make up for it.”

Akira's mind continues to flounder in indecision. I don't know. I really don't know. Earlier today, the right answer would have come to him easily. But now, his conviction has faded to doubt. He should have told Tatsuta “no” long before this could become a problem. Worse, his mind struggles to articulate precisely why that never happened. That line of thought, like so many others, has been neglected, left to sink into the mire of muddled memories. It's far beyond his reach now. All he can do is act within the moment.

“So…” Akira finally says, “would this be like before? The restaurant and all?”

“Indeed,” Frisch replies. “A pleasant, casual outing.”

“How casual?”

“No additional decorum will be required. Whatever you wear normally is fine. There is no need to impress us, Dr. Katsuragi. We are already quite impressed with you.”

The words emerge of their own accord. “When?”

“As soon as this evening, if you're available.”

He doesn't hesitate. “I am.” I have nowhere else to go. “Do you have a specific time and place in mind?”

“How do you feel about international cuisine, Dr. Katsuragi?”

“I don't know. It depends.”

“I know a number of equally fine establishments,” Frisch says. “Korean? Thai? Indian? Italian? German? Fre-”

An easy choice. “German will do. I wasn't even aware we had a place like that locally.”

“One of Okazaki's many well-kept secrets,” Frisch chirps. “Let me provide the address. Tell me when you're ready.”

Akira swiftly removes his pocket notebook and turns to a fresh page. “Ready.” Once it's been written down, Akira contemplates for a brief moment. “That's not too far from here. I could probably be there by 6.”

“Excellent. 6 it is.”

Akira nods, adding that to the page and emphatically circling it. “I'll see you there, Herr Frisch.” …Herr? Did he really just say that?

“I look forward to it,” Frisch says. Then, with a playful lilt, he adds, “…Doktor Katsuragi.”

Akira hears a click on the other end and hangs up in turn. He slowly leans back in his chair. He isn't sure why, but his heart is racing. Trying to get a grip on himself, he clasps his cross and stares at what he wrote down in the notepad. “Zum Anknabbern, 42 Okazaki Tennocho, Sakyo-ku. 6 o'clock PM.” Underneath all that, “Lukas von Frisch” in delicately printed romaji. He underlines the man's name twice, then puts the notepad away.

He glances at the clock — only 4:45. Time enough to still accomplish a thing or two. First things first: he extracts the ISTAA report from its envelope with a pair of scissors. There's a small typed note stamped with Tatsuta's seal clipped to the front, little more than a formality. “Your copy, as promised”, it says. “If you require anything else, do not hesitate to contact me during regular office hours”, which she kindly provides. Akira turns the thick, bound volume over, then flips through the leaves.

Certainly, everything looks precisely as he remembers: page after page of straightforward breakdowns of his methodology and proofing, the viability of every hypothetical, and the long-term utility of his demonstrated intellectual ability to ISTAA's goals and aims. The impartial third parties commissioned for the work appear to be qualified specialists in numerous fields, nearly all unfamiliar names and from every corner of the globe. Figures that the only people within the scientific community who have scrutinized Akira's work at any level of detail were all paid to do it. Even so, this is valuable stuff — impartial peer review, provided free of cost. It will take Akira many long hours of careful cross-referencing between the individual reports and his original publications to receive the full benefit.

Why, exactly, did he let something like this linger at the bottom of his tray all this time? At first, it seems a significant question, but it doesn't take very long to remember the reason. Just skimming over a single write-up, he feels his chest flood with an overwhelming sense of long-desired affirmation. Back then, during the meeting with Tatsuta, he had struggled to suppress that feeling with his own abundant self-doubt — but it didn't work, not completely. Akira had correctly identified that feeling as a very real danger, and cast the forbidden fruit from his sight where it could do little harm. But now? Now……

He's being helplessly propelled back toward temptation.

Akira at last remembers why he wanted to access the report during the call. That list of commission members' names, signing off in the very back. He seeks out the page, to find that his memory hasn't betrayed him. Topping the list is “Lukas von Frisch, Developmental Director & Chief of Operations”, flanked by a signature that is both efficient and elegant.

The mind boggles. That's considerably more significant than how Frisch had earlier described himself, as a mere “director”. Akira immediately feels the desire to believe, same as with Tatsuta, that he's being toyed with. That's far more logical than the CEO of an international organization singling him out as someone worthy of individual attention. He's just not that important. There's no way.

But, no — there has to be some reason he agreed to meet with Frisch. Perhaps it's mere desperation. Or perhaps it's something more. Maybe it's the part of himself that knows he's always been onto something, that deeply, intuitively recognizes his own significance. It's tempting to ignore it. Sometimes it's even the right thing to do. But perhaps the time has come to once again listen. Give it a chance to be the voice of reason.

He gives himself about a half hour to peruse. But, all too soon, it's time to go. He empties any extraneous contents from his hand bag and slides the report on in, just in case there's opportunity to read more on the way over. As Akira zips the bag up, he wonders if he should bring his cell phone. Quickly, his mind vetoes the notion — it will just feel like Sayaka's presence hovering over him the entire time. Should he even give her the courtesy of a call, to tell her where he'll be? He's supposed to already be home, after all. Is it really right to leave her in the dark?

Probably not. No, certainly not. But right now Akira doesn't care. Not one wit. He'll get home whenever he does, and she can deal with it.
Avatar: "That's right. I'm a gay robot." (David 8 image by Junseo)
Crying Man
(Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God): Read at AO3 & Discuss Here.
Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

"Fighting idiocy is like fighting a hydra. Cut off one head, two more grow back and need to tell you their uninformed opinion." - PeeJee, Something*Positive

Reichu
Space-Time Teratoma
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Age: 35
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:33 am

...So, nobody? Not even NemZy-poo? Just my luck that the limited interest on EGF would evaporate just as the story is getting somewhere. Oh cruel, bitter irony.

BUT in the unlikely event that somebody somewhere out there is still reading this, I will now post the final section of the chapter. Sadly, due to the post character limit this must be done in two pieces...

Ch. 14 (Pt. C)  SPOILER: Show
Akira leans back and regards the restaurant's festive, hand-crafted sign. Zum Anknabbern. A playfully self-deprecating name, meaning “good enough to eat”. That might not fly back in Germany, but clearly the restaurant's owner is having fun here in Kyoto, where the joke will go over most people's heads.

The entranceway is refreshingly tall, such that Akira can, for a change, pass through without thinking about it. Very slight mismatches in the paint suggest that the top was vaulted up after the fact. Passes on through, it's immediately clear that this place has a much more cheerful atmosphere than the Guren no Fukuryū. As far as Akira can tell, all of the patrons — mostly European or American tourists — seem to be enjoying themselves. The place seems authentic in every respect, perfectly replicating the atmosphere of a Bavarian restaurant-pub: from the imported hosts and servers, to the architecture and décor, to the music and lighting. Definitely takes Akira back. With any luck, the food will match the rest.

As different as the environs and his mental state are from last time, though, the déjà vu is strong.

A young blonde woman, sporting the stereotypical puffy white sleeves, low-cut blouse, and apron, breaks away from the front pub area and greets him. “Welcome to Zum Anknabbern, sir. How may I help you?” The Japanese is mildly stilted, but effective enough.

“I'm here for a dinner meeting,” Akira says. “My host might have already arrived.” When the hostess provides an expectant look, he elaborates, “Lukas von Frisch?”

“Ah, you must be Dr. Katsuragi,” she says. Akira simply nods. “Herr Frisch is expecting you. Right this way.”

Echoing his previous dinner meeting, Akira is escorted all the way to the back, where the nicest tables are invariably located. The colorful Teutonic atmosphere continues all the way, though distance from the bar does make this area more quiet. Aside from the pervasive tobacco smell — his fault for not asking about that, he supposes — it's quite nice.

Akira spots an older gentleman seated alone at an oversized circular table, legs loosely crossed and a cigarette gripped delicately between index and middle fingers. He's so specifically distinctive there's no doubt he is Lukas von Frisch in the flesh. As Akira approaches, the striking pale blue eyes gaze in his direction, projecting their anticipation and an almost uncomfortable sense of familiarity. Immediately, Akira's muscles tense and he can feel the rush of blood pounding away at both his eardrums.

“One of the waitresses with be with you shortly,” the hostess says, her voice impossibly distant. “Please enjoy your stay.” Akira doesn't even see her leave.

Frisch brings the cigarette to his mouth and partakes of it with all the sensuality one might provide a lover. Gray mist soon emerges from his lips in a fine funnel, thoughtfully targeted away from the table. Then, promptly reversing the act of tenderness, Frisch grinds the butt into the ashtray, vigorously, leaving no embers intact.

At last, he stands, towering as high as Akira himself, maybe even with a few centimeters' advantage. Frisch immediately leaves a strong impression: a fit, handsomely weathered man no younger than sixty, with stunningly silver hair and a neatly trimmed chevron mustache. His garb is almost alarmingly casual — even Akira is more dressed up —, nothing about it suggesting his station. But there is something about him, something about his overall presence that Akira can only describe as “aristocratic”. Perhaps, given the “von”, that's to be expected. Normally, Akira would find that off-putting — but not today.

“Good evening, Dr. Katsuragi,” Frisch greets, bowing at a modest angle. Akira immediate returns with a deeper bow. “I appreciate you coming to meet with me on such short notice.”
Straightening up, Akira shakes his head. “No, not at all, Frisch-san. It's my pleasure. I'm quite interested in whatever you have to say.”

Frisch smiles. “Feeling more confident, are we?”

Akira releases a modest sigh. “It's simpler to say, perhaps, that I'm interested in being persuaded.”

Frisch raps the tips of his fingers together. “Excellent.” He extends an open palm to the opposite end of the table. “Please have a seat, Dr. Katsuragi.”

Akira does.

The older man retrieves his purse — an expensive-looking piece of leather craftsmanship — and begins to rummage within. “To start with, you must want some assurance that I am who I claim.” Is he referring back to Akira's hangup on the phone? Or perhaps this is a customary step in any meeting that takes place outside the office? Frisch retrieves a small leather card holder and passes it to Akira. “Please take a look, Dr. Katsuragi.”

Akira hesitantly opens it up. The thing is packed with identification cards issued by the United Nations Commission for the Sciences. Each card is bi- or trilingual: English as the default, and the others contingent on the particular UN headquarters that issued the ID. Every major world language seems to be covered, far as he can tell. A holographic UN seal is emblazoned on each, something Akira remembers seeing on Tatsuta's ID. According to these, Frisch is a German citizen and will turn 61 in February.

One card, placed perfectly in the very middle, is different from the rest, issued instead by “UN/ISTAA”. Located in Hamburg — or at least this particular branch is — so the languages are English and German. The holographic seal is a much smaller version of what Akira remembers seeing on the ISTAA booklet: a tree resembling a brain in profile. While the other IDs are valid well into 2005, this one expires at the beginning of next year. Brings to mind what Tatsuta had said about how ISTAA wasn't quite ready to go public.

“Thank you,” Akira says, returning the holder. “That quenches all remaining doubt, I think.”
Fantastisch.” Frisch stows it back away. “So, before we get down to business… Are you hungry, Dr. Katsuragi? I haven't eaten since the morning, myself. Please.” He gestures to the menus that the hostess set down when Akira wasn't paying attention. “Help yourself. Your meal is, of course, complimentary.”

“Ah— Yes, of course. Thank you.”

He peruses the menu. So many competing options. He could easily go for at least half of them, but schweinebraten with a side of kartoffelklösse and sauerkraut couldn't possibly let him down. The spirits menu has a lot of possibilities, as well. While he's trying to decide, the waitress arrives. Frisch greets her with casual familiarity auf Deutsch — he's clearly been waited by her before — and divulges his order. Even with such a short interchange to judge from, Akira gets the distinct impression that Frisch's speech is just as contrived and over-embellished in his native tongue. Interesting. The waitress's attention soon turns to him, and, feeling more daring than usual, he opts for an apple and pear brandy.

Once that's done with, Frisch comments, “I must commend you for choosing a German dining venue. Had you not, I would've needed to visit Zum Anknabbern on my spare time.”

“You're a regular, I take it?”

“Well,” he laughs, “as regular as an only intermittent presence in your country can be. I've been traveling abroad most of my life, and my return visits to Germany are ever limited. A piece of home in a place of business is always welcome, accordingly.”

Akira nods. “I can understand that.” He looks off to the side and notices an alpenhorn mounted on the far wall, amidst other Alpine paraphernalia. “Are you from Bavaria specifically?”

“Oh, yes,” Frisch says. “My father is actually Austrian, but I was born in Augsburg on the estate of my mother's family. I've ultimately spend more time on the German side of the border than not. Beautiful city, Augsburg. And the surrounding forest and countryside, simply exquisite. Have you been there?”

“I may have passed through at some point,” Akira allows.

“So…” Frisch strokes his mustache methodically. “I'm to understand that you personally spent part of your formative years in Germany?”

Akira's left eyebrow peaks. “I wasn't aware that was common knowledge.”

The older man leans back, grinning ever so slightly. “In my line of work, you come to know many things that aren't.”

How comforting… “Yes,” Akira relents, “it's true. I--” He cuts off, immediately struck by the fact that he's on the verge of revealing unnecessary personal details. To this man, a complete stranger. Charismatic, yes, but a stranger nonetheless. What Frisch is doing couldn't be more obvious, could it? Revealing details about himself, only to segue into questions toward Akira — clearly intended to put his guest at ease and make him open up and become more susceptible to whatever form of psychological persuasion he has planned. But perhaps this isn't actually a problem. After all, why did Akira come here, if not to be persuaded?

He takes a deep breath, then another, and finally looks into Frisch's pale blue eyes. They seem to be regarding him with a deep calm that's somewhere between fascination and detachment. It's decidedly ambiguous, to an almost exhilarating extent. Whatever precisely lay within that gaze, it's also unusually warm and comforting. The owner of those eyes is not necessarily someone Akira can trust… but he would like to. More than anything. He has to dip his toes into the waters and see what happens.

At last, he proceeds. “I spent part of my childhood in Düsseldorf. It had a… lingering effect, I've been told.”

“Hmm,” Frisch intones. “Such as your unusual height, perhaps?”

“Maybe.” Akira shrugs. “Everyone else in my family is typical Japanese height, so I guess not being limited to the usual Japanese dietary staples, even for a time, could have played some role.” Thinking about it, “I suppose, while I was in Germany, I did develop atypical eating habits that lasted well into early adulthood.” Ones entirely distinct from the pathological dietary behaviors that eventually took over…

“Apologies if this question is out of line, Dr. Katsuragi,” Frisch says, “but have you, by any chance, considered partly European heritage?”

The question takes him by surprise. “No. Well, I mean…” Akira scratches the back of his head. “I'm post-war, so it's distinctly possible. But if it were the case, my family would have made certain that no one ever heard a word about it. I have no stake in the Japanese obsession with racial purity, so it really makes no difference to me.” His index finger starts to make small circles upon the cross. “But… why specifically do you ask?”

Frisch brushes a finger along the inner top edge of his right eye. “You don't have an especially distinctive epicanthic fold. In my experience, that's more common when the blood has thinned.” He picks up his glass and swills the contained beverage around. “So to speak.”

Suddenly, Akira wishes he had access to a mirror, but the nearest available thing is the chrome of the silverware, and that won't really do. He'll have to keep it in mind for his next bathroom run. Meantime, he simply shrugs. “I'm only ever mistaken for Euro stock in the interim before someone sees my face.”

“Oh, to be sure,”—Frisch ever so slightly tips back his head and lets some of the wine trickle down—“you definitely have more East Asian features than not. The distinctiveness of your upper eyelids is a very subtle detail. You would probably need to have your genes tested to be sure. If that is something that interests you, anyway.”

Akira shrugs again. “Maybe. As a novelty, it would be interesting. I don't have the money to throw away on something like that, though.”

“Understandable.” He sets the glass back down. “So, putting that aside, how is your German? You would have needed to learn it at one point, yes?”

“Well…” Akira quickly sifts through the most obvious conversational tidbits, deciding how much depth he should provide. He doesn't get to discuss this part of his life often. All the way, it's decided. “As you might have guessed, my family lived in the Japanese quarter of the city. Immermanstraße, Oststraße…”

Frisch nods. “I've been there. Quite an interesting blend of influences in Düsseldorf. A very densely textured place.”

Akira, harboring no disagreement, goes on. “My parents tried to keep me as sequestered from foreign influence as possible. Sent me to a Japanese international school, the whole deal. For all the good it did.” He winks. “I was a defiant child. Prospect of punishment stopped phasing me at an early age and I was too 'crafty' to truly keep under wraps. So I spent as much time out and about as I could. Ingratiated myself with the local children.” At last getting to the point, he says, “I became fluent quite quickly.”

“And have you been able to hold onto any of that, Dr. Katsuragi?”

The thin man signs. “Not as well as I'd like. My working knowledge of common vernacular is fairly rusty. It's mostly technical jargon and the purely business end of social niceties that get any exercise.”

Frisch cups his chin in a palm. “Due to your international participation in the physics community, I assume?”

Akira nods.

“If you're interested in getting a little extra practice, Dr. Katsuragi,” Frisch says, “you're welcome to do so here. I'd be quite interested in hearing your command of Deutsch.”

“I, uh…” Akira glances off. “I never feel completely comfortable speaking it in Japan. Bit of a personal hangup, I suppose.”

Frisch provides a solemn nod. “I understand that. If you don't mind my saying so, your own people are nothing if not xenophobic.”

Quite a risky thing to say to a Japanese. Did Frisch somehow know about Akira's predilections already? Or was he able to accurately guess it from what's already been said? The comment about racial purity couldn't have made that too difficult… Akira rolls with it. “Oh, by all means. I'm in full agreement. Any ill opinion you might have of my country, it's almost a certainty that I'll share it.”

“Fascinating. Your country fosters an above-average sense of nationalism, does it not? Would you consider yourself an exception?”

“Absolutely.” Akira can feel himself rapidly firing on all cylinders. He's almost never able to talk about this, least of all with such unforgiving openness. It won't matter what he says to Frisch, and it's wonderful. “I'm one of the least Japanese Japanese people you'll ever meet.”

“And would you say this is a result of your time abroad?” Frisch cocks his head, accentuating the sense of inquisitiveness. “Or is it something else?”

Akira considers this. “A combination of things, I'd guess. It's hard to say. Someone in the position of observing my personal development through cold, impartial lenses might be able to, but I'm too close to the matter.”

Frisch's neck reverts. “I see.”

At that point, food and drink arrive, bringing the conversation to a temporary respite. Everything looks and smells absolutely divine. Akira didn't realize just how hungry he was. Breaking out fork and meat knife, he sets into his dish with vigor. Setting a piece of flesh upon his tongue and working it with his teeth, he's immediately taken by how tender, juicy, and flavorful it is. Impeccably cooked, and quite possibly of a higher caliber than what he last remembers having at an actual restaurant in Germany. He takes a sip from his drink and comments, “This is excellent.”

Frisch — in the midst of slow, thoughtful mastication — provides a nod and hum of emphatic agreement. He drinks a colorless liqueur from a tall, frosty glass, then returns to his own meal. On the plate is piled what appear to be some manner of bratwurst. Each one is about fifteen cm long, neither too thick nor too thin, and uniformly cooked to a dark fleshy color. Having finished one, Frisch plunges his fork into the next. Rather than proceed by cutting off a reasonable section, he picks the entire thing up and places one end in his mouth. His eyes close in savor and…

The anxiety sets in fast and fierce, tiny muscle spasms breaking out across Akira's body. This is incredibly uncomfortable to watch, least of all because of the pulsating twitch in his left eyelid. Yet he can't bring himself to look away from the lewd display. The lascivious embrace of his lips. The playful little nibbles. The satisfied murmurs. Frisch's dining seems intended to provoke, as if, somehow, he knows. About the toy, about Taro, about twenty pitiful years of repression. But there's no possible way Frisch can know. It has to all be in Akira's head, the result of his senses playing a cruel trick on him. Either that, or this is just how Frisch eats his bratwurst and it's all a marvelous, vicious coincidence. He can't decide.

Though the table conceals his unwitting vasocongestion, he still feels absolutely exposed. An impotent and incapable passenger within his own body. A dark, clandestine impulse beckons him to take some kind of action, the kind requiring nothing more than the most subtle of looks, but there is nothing to do but ignore it. He doesn't trust himself enough to even chance the possibility that Frisch is imparting a message and waiting on a reply. He has to get his mind away from this. Back to business.

Akira swallows down the excessive saliva that had pooled in his mouth and forces himself to speak. “So, I—” He throws back some of the brandy, hoping it will soothe the nerves. “I've noticed that you have impressive credentials, Frisch-san.”

Frisch looks up from his plate, and his eyes seem to twinkle with quiet mischief. He brings his napkin to his lips, followed by a rinse of the palette. “Indeed.”

Not the response Akira was expecting. He provides a stronger prompt. “If I might ask, what exactly do you do for the United Nations?”

“A valid question, Dr. Katsuragi.” Frisch pushes his plate aside, setting down thoughtfully intertwined hands. “Overall, it is my duty to see ISTAA off the ground in a timely manner and make sure its development adheres to the vision established by my superiors.” His sturdy, calloused fingers ripple up and down against his knuckles hypnotically. “This requires having a strong international presence and regularly monitoring what all of the important players beneath me are doing.”

“Interesting,” Akira says, for lack of anything better.

Without missing a beat, the older man goes on, as if reciting a preexisting tract which must always be divulged in full. “Whenever possible, I like to simply set things in motion, then occasionally check in and make sure everything is functioning as planned. Anything that isn't is swiftly dealt with. Bureaucracies are a major problem in most organizations, but due to the UN's need for expediency I am largely liberated of such shackles. My operations are almost entirely autonomous, only occasionally requiring clearance from the higher-ups.” The sense of mechanization abruptly dissipates as he finishes, pointedly looking at Akira, “If need be, I can take lower-tier matters into my own hands.”

“Which is…” Akira gulps in spite of himself. “That's what you're doing here with me. Isn't it?”

Frisch leans back, wrapping his hands behind his head, the hint of a smirk on his lips. “Indeed?”

Is he testing me? Akira gives the man what he, apparently, wants. “If Tatsuta wasn't working out, there's no particular reason one of her peers couldn't have taken up my case. But, instead,”—he provides his own pointed look—“you're the one doing it. Arguably the most important individual in your division of the UN, spending precious hours on one lowly recruit. It's curious, no? There must be countless matters of greater significance requiring your attention.”

Frisch tenderly sips from his cup. “And why do you say that?”

Akira does the same. “It seems an inescapable conclusion of your job description.”

A sly smile. Frisch dabs the alcohol from his mustache. “No doubt you must be wondering, Dr. Katsuragi, why you warrant such an exaggerated level of special attention.”

“The thought had occurred to me, yes.”

“Tell me, Dr. Katsuragi.” Frisch steeples his fingers, suggesting another incoming tract. “Why did you spend ten years of your life pursuing the S² theory? Surely you knew that you would face harrowing opposition.”

Akira's immediate impression is that this is a non sequitur, but he tries to play along. Kneading at the back of his cranium, he says, eyes averted, “There's no one particular reason.”

“I would be honored to hear the story behind it,” the other man says, a sense of gentle honesty percolating into his voice. “Even just part of the tale would suffice.”

It's hard to isolate it from his mind: a succinct “story” behind the S² theory. Akira is tempted to just dismiss it out of hand as the product of madness. Certainly, it is that, at least in part. But that really isn't adequate grounds for summary dismissal, either. However the idea was first conceived, almost all of the actual back-breaking work was done during periods of perfect lucidity. Akira can be certain about this because, whenever possible, he had Haru look over his work for obvious flaws. Haru, being a fellow protégé of Dr. Amagiri — upon whose theoretical achievements Akira's own are ultimately built —, was in a better position than most anyone to discover potential problems. And find some he did, but these were mostly simple mathematical slip-ups and other such oversights, nothing especially devastating. Haru's opposition to Akira's work was never as a physicist, but as a friend, his objections mostly on the grounds that research of such an obsessive nature actively took away from the things that Akira also needed to be doing. In any event, Haru's quiet endorsement seems to be vindicated by the ISTAA report. Even Akira's monumental difficulty getting his monograph published is on his side, in a way: he can't think of a single rejection letter that actually justified the decision on scientific grounds.

His research of the past decade… it's not mere nonsense or madness. It's a genuine window of understanding opened up in the dark, intangible fabric of the cosmos. Beyond it lay answers to some of the greatest secrets of the universe. Humanity need only to enter that door without fear and trepidation and see where it leads, following the map painstakingly rendered within Akira's head. Unlike anyone else, he knows precisely what to do next. He knows how to reach the final destination.

In his heart of hearts, he knows this all to be true. He must simply let himself feel it again. Embrace the eternal flame and let its power flow through him.

“The tale...” Akira's eyes dart down impishly and his lips peel back just a little. “It really begins with the work of my sensei, Dr. Shinkichi Amagiri. He was a rebel himself, albeit one vindicated within his lifetime.” Akira looks back at Frisch. “Are you familiar?”

“Dr. Amagiri is the godfather of Dirac Sea physics, if I'm not mistaken.”

“You are not. Sensei always had a fascination with physics' discards pile. All the things deemed silly and fruitless, and left to rot in aging texts. Not infrequently, they inspired him. He'd uncover a thread that, if tugged on enough, would unravel all the useless nonsense, revealing an idea with actual promise. That's how the revival of the Dirac Sea began. By the time sensei took me and Dr. Yakumo under his wing, he had published a solid line-up of papers on the subject. Haru and I were both trained to continue that work.”

Frisch nods. “The S² theory definitely owes much of its foundation to Amagiri's work and your own initial explorations of same. But it's also radically divergent. Dirac Sea physics form only part of its DNA. A lot of your ideas, frankly, have never been seen before. At least, not in such a cohesive and empirical state. How did that transition come about? From dutifully following your sensei's footsteps to spearheading your own explosive suite of concepts?”

Akira thoughtfully strokes the side of his face. “A lot of it is a blur now. But, I guess, I owe a lot of it to my…” His throat bobs. “...my wife.”

“Indeed?” Frisch says, looking surprised.

“She… uh…” Suddenly the words are coming less easily. But he can get through this. Just make it quick and simple. “She never found the utility of pure theoretical physics especially convincing. I suppose, to her mind, exploring the deepest mysteries of the universe should be an entirely spiritual pursuit, not how one makes their living. She would always try to be gentle and indirect, but I knew what she was really saying: 'You have an incredible gift, and you're wasting it on things that don't actually matter.'”

“And what would actually matter?” A coy inquiry.

“Sayaka… er, my wife…” Akira starts thumbing his pendant. “She deeply believes in helping other people. Personal talents should not be wasted on trivial pursuits; they should be used for the good of the many. I guess something inside me saw the logic of that. A seed was planted, you could say.” He sighs deeply. “I think it all started to really come together when our puppy was… uh…” He rubs the edges of his eyes. “A, uh, car got her…”

Frisch allows a sympathetic frown. “I'm sorry to hear it. Dogs truly make everything better.” He imbibes what little remains in his glass, and refills it halfway from the bottle. “If it's too much, Dr. Katsuragi, there's no need to continue on my account.”

“No…” Akira shakes his head. “No, it's just that I don't think about it often, so it… you know… it always hurts when I do. I can go on.”

“By all means.”

Akira takes a moment to collect himself, then proceeds. “Anyway, as I was saying… The car. I never owned one. I never needed to. I always just ignored them. But after that, I couldn't. They cause so many needless deaths. But as I thought about it more and more, I realized that automobiles, they were just a distraction. There was a much greater issue underlying it all. Something that has been causing needless suffering, conflict, and destruction for as long as humanity has existed, and will only get worse the longer we're on this Earth.” He plunges a fork into one of the remaining morsels on his plate and holds it up. “Energy. The need for energy.” Then down the hatch it goes.

“Indeed,” Frisch says. “I've seen that your monograph dedicates a not insignificant section to the issue. And I believe you've spoken about it at all three of your big lectures this year.”

Akira finishes chewing, then washes it down. “I, uh… Well, once I got invested, it was hard not to feel passionate. Like maybe I could, eventually, make a difference in the world.”

“And there's absolutely no reason you can't.”

Here they are. They've finally reached the critical point. Whatever happens now will determine everything to follow.

Frisch goes on. “Clearly, Dr. Katsuragi, you believe in your work. You feel its inherent value on a profound level.”

“I… Yes, I suppose I do.”

“And yet something is obstructing your path forward. At this point, the most obvious problem has been removed. With ISTAA, money is no longer an issue. You know that we will fund your research to its logical conclusion.”

Akira gulps heavily and his eyes waver. “I— Yes, I do understand that.”

Frisch eases back into his chair and steeples his fingers over his lap. “So, Dr. Katsuragi, if you do not mind my asking… What, precisely, is preventing you from taking our offer?”

His fingers tighten around his great-aunt's cross. Akira takes a deep breath and expels, “I'm afraid it's a private matter.”

“Hmm,” the German muses, rapping the tips of his index fingers together. “Domestic issues? Those can be a problem, of course. But we are more than willing to work with you and your family. You need only to allow us.”

“I never said—” Akira starts, then realizes there's no point. Frisch clearly has an ability to read people far, far eclipsing Akira's ability to hide matters of the heart. “Things are very complicated right now. I can't… I shouldn't be reckless.” Immediately, Akira wonders what in the world he's thinking or doing. He went to such great lengths to convince himself that, yes, this meet-up was a good idea and all he required was a tiny push from Frisch to take the leap. And now he's accelerating in full reverse? Just how fickle is he?

Frisch fidgets briefly about his breast pocket, then lets his index finger caress his mouth contemplatively. “A troubled marriage is a painful thing. Nor a matter easily resolved. It can take months… years… for the final verdict to be reached.”

Akira stares into his lap, fiercely biting his lower lip.

“You're seeking answers, Dr. Katsuragi, but you're the only one genuinely capable of providing them. You must decide what is truly important to you.”

Akira tries to speak, but his voice emerges a whisper. “I want to. More than anything.” He looks back up. “That's why I came here. You said—” He coughs into his sleeve, then resumes with better volume. “You said you wanted to persuade me. Well, then… persuade me!”

Frisch smirks. “You dislike Tatsuta's tactics, but, I'm afraid, she learned much of what she knows from me. Are you certain you wish to hear it, though?”

“At this point? I'm not sure it really matters.” The long, scrawny fingers begin to anxiously crawl through shaggy purple bangs. “Whatever you think I need to hear, Frisch-san… please say it.”

“Consider your options. Look at them with your scientist's eyes. You could pursue what is quite possibly a doomed relationship to its cold, bitter end, in accordance with the misguided hope that your true calling in life is little more than domestic mediocrity. Families are everything, Dr. Katsuragi… to those who have naught to give the world but their shuffled genes.”

Akira's speechless. He didn't expect something so immediately callous. He wants to disagree with it, violently. But he can't. The words don't reach his tongue.

“For a man of such overwhelming intelligence and trailblazing vision, family is well and good. But it's clear that your potential memetic legacy is so much more significant.”

Frisch punctuates his cruelty by pulling a cigarette from his breast pocket and lighting it up, with such speed and fluidity that Akira has not even the slightest chance to protest. Attempting to do so after the fact would just make Akira feel even more impotent. He takes the insult without complaint, to Frisch's apparent amusement.

The older man chortles. “So, is that what you had in mind?”

Akira, shoulders stiff, buries his hands in his lap. “Maybe. I don't know anymore.”

“To put it simply, Dr. Katsuragi…” The German allows himself a long, deep inhalation, and visibly savors every milligram of nicotine that enters his bloodstream. “If you let this offer pass you by, that's an opportunity to benefit all humanity that may well be gone forever.” Smoke ominously billows from his mouth as he speaks. “Is that a blemish you really want on your life?”

“Why?” Akira says. “Why only two months?”

Frisch continues to smoke, unperturbed. “It's really not up to me, Dr. Katsuragi. The order to seek out certain kinds of talent within a certain amount of time was sent down. I obey.”

“That doesn't answer the question…” Akira murmurs sullenly.

“You're correct. There are some questions for which I can't provide a direct answer, I'm afraid. Unlike many others, I'm fully willing to admit that.”

Akira's eyes start to water, though possibly more because of the smoke than due to the usual culprit. “So if, after another month, you can't get me… what will ISTAA do?”

A narrow gray cloud dissipates skyward. “Get by with a pale imitation, I suppose. It's not what I would prefer, I assure you. Losing you would be catastrophic. The key to limitless energy is right inside your head.” Frisch taps his temple for emphasis. “Even with your paper out there, do you think anyone else truly comprehends your ideas? Enough to actually take them to the next stage? I'd expect even the best possible substitute to require another decade just to completely wrap their head around the most basic principles in your paper. You're that far ahead of everyone else.”

“So, that assessment report…? Was it just for show?”

“Not at all,” Frisch says. “But, obviously, there's a world of difference between checking someone's research for fundamental competency and such, and actually being able to continue that research yourself.”

“I suppose.” Akira starts fidgeting again. “I… Frisch-san, I want to see the S² reactor through. I really do. But this is a terrible time. I want to give you an answer now, but there's no way I can. Not in good conscience.”

Frisch strokes his mustache. “You honestly believe that whatever is happening in your life will be resolved in a month?”

Akira laughs bitterly. “I really don't know what to believe.”

The older man sips from his drink. “Perhaps what you need, Dr. Katsuragi, is a vacation.”

A strange, almost contemptuous sound escapes Akira's lips. “A vacation?” He compulsively reaches for his own drink.

Frisch is, as always, unaffected. “This weekend I'm needed down in West Bank for a bit of minutiae. Qumran, specifically; perhaps you've heard of it.”

“Maybe.” Akira shrugs. “I'm not sure.”

He goes on. “We have a temporary facility down there, called ARQA Base.” He produces a handful of Polaroids. “The whole thing will be ripped down first quarter next year, so it doesn't look like much.”

Akira takes a look. It's basically a long, three-story prefabricated building in the middle of the desert. There's no sign of actual roads, just worn-out depressions in the sand. There's a couple of signs in the pictures, mostly in Hebrew but with some illegible English underneath. The acronym “ARQA” seems to be slapped onto everything. “What does 'ARQA' mean?”

“Archeological Research of Qumran Alliance. Awkward, as many acronyms are.”

“Archeology?” He shakes his head. “That doesn't have anything to do with me.”

Frisch takes the photos back. “ARQA is a small UN offshoot with the purpose of making excavations and research in that area less… sticky, shall we say.”

“I see,” Akira says, still waiting for the relevant part. “What's your involvement here?”

“The base is a joint operation between ARQA and my organization. ARQA gets top billing, of course, but most of the talent, technology, and so forth — that is provided by the commission. What we have here, Dr. Katsuragi, is proof of concept of ISTAA. This is, in reality, an ISTAA project. One of the first.”

“And… that's why you want me to see it?”

“Indeed. I want you to see, with your own eyes, what becomes possible with us. You will be able to witness, for yourself, just how state of the art we are — how no expense is spared giving our researchers the tools they require. You'll be able to meet successful enlistees. Every last one will be pleased to answer any questions you might have. Provided you don't exceed certain boundaries, of course.”

“Of course…” Akira repeats, not entirely sure what Frisch means but not sure it really matters, either. “But, Frisch-san, archeology? You still haven't told me—”

“Ah! Quite right. You needn't worry about that. ARQA Base has a little bit of everything. I'm fairly certain we even have some theoretical physicists.”

The mind boggles. What in the world could they be doing with the cooperation of an archaeological alliance that would require theoretical physicists? “I'd be lying if I said I wasn't deeply curious.” He takes a drink. “About just what is going on there and why you think I would benefit from seeing it.”

“That's the idea, Dr. Katsuragi. If I didn't appeal to your sense of curiosity, what would be the point?”

“I suppose so.”

“That brings us to the matter of your availability. It has to be this weekend. Depart Friday afternoon, arrive back before dawn on Monday.”

The previous time Frisch mentioned “weekend” it didn't quite register, but now… Akira shakes his head vigorously. “No… There's no way I can go. I have important obligations.” Everyone is coming over to help knock the wall down on Sunday, and he's promised to help Misato with her project. Whatever his feelings about Sayaka, he can't let himself miss those.

“Oh?” Frisch taps his index fingers together. “How important?”

Akira tries to stand his ground. “Incredibly. That's all I can say.”

Frisch doesn't seem affected by this at all. He casually works on a morsel, and, afterward, just as casually sips from his glass. “I'm willing to compensate you for your time and trouble, Dr. Katsuragi.” He gives Akira a pointed look. “You have a teenage daughter, I understand? How is her college fund coming along?”

Both of Akira's eyebrows shoot up. “Preteen, anyway. But what does that have to do with any—”

Frisch slowly twirls the glass between his fingers. “I trust it's still in a hard place, what with your professor's salary. But it doesn't have to be that way.” He produces his wallet and starts pulling 10,000 yen notes from within, laying them down on the table one after another.

Akira watches helplessly. What on earth is this man doing?

After Frisch sets down the twelfth note, he says, quite calmly, “I will pay you this much, times four. And all you have to do is accompany me and tour the facility. Nothing else.”

Is Frisch insane? He wants to give Akira ¥480,000 for doing what amounts to nothing? “You're trying to… bribe me?” He cradles his forehead wearily. “Is this even legal?”

Frisch shuffles the notes back into a neat pile. “You may be surprised.”

“Enlighten me,” Akira says.

“The Frisch estate is one of the United Nations' many patrons, Dr. Katsuragi. As the current head of that estate, I may, of course, donate funds anywhere I please.” A sly grin. “Toward a bright young woman's scholastic future, for instance. It would not be the first time, and it would hardly be the last.” He takes a drag off his cigarette. “Frankly, Dr. Katsuragi, such a paltry sum would be more than worth it, if it helped enable your possible investment in our organization.”

Akira says nothing.

“¥480,000 should put a fair dent in your girl's tuition. Cover at least the first year, I imagine. Quite charitable, don't you think? Wouldn't your family agree that one mere weekend is worth that much?”

“Maybe,” he allows. “It's… it's really hard to say.” Akira runs his fingers under his hair, cupping his scalp. “And all I have to do is visit this place? That's really all?”

“Correct.” Frisch at last snuffs his cigarette. “You'll have to sign nondisclosure forms, of course, but otherwise I require nothing more than what I stated previously. That is, for you to accompany me on a tour of the facility. It will take most of Saturday and possibly some of Sunday. There is zero obligation to enlist with ISTAA, and your daughter will receive her scholarship via mail within the week.”

“Wait. Possibly Sunday?” Akira asks. “If what you require of me only takes a day, and I could be back here on Sunday, that would make a world of difference.”

Frisch shakes his head. “Alas, I cannot be certain of the timing. Were that possible, I would not unduly waste your time. There are many factors that are out of my control.”

“I… I see…”

“If it so happens that we're done sooner than expected — well, Kalya and the Dead Sea are certainly worth seeing while you're down there. I can provide a guide to you free of charge.”

“That's very generous, but…” Wait. Dead Sea? West Bank? Israel-Palestine? A long-delayed alarm triggers. “It occurs to me, isn't that part of the world a bit… volatile?”

Frisch offers a reassured smile. “You're not mistaken, Dr. Katsuragi. There are inevitable complications that arise from working there. At the same time, there are also many preventative and precautionary measures that can be taken. ARQA Base is a highly secured location and has yet to suffer incident. I have also been to the area many times, and, as you see, I am still here.”

“So… you would guarantee my safety?”

“Absolutely. All protective measures enjoyed by me will also be conferred to you.”

Akira gazes deeply into his plate. Being treated like a VIP in a potential danger zone, there's an innate thrill and adventure to the notion. Normally, Akira finds little appeal in personal endangerment, but today is not a normal day. “If I do this… What guarantee do I have that this isn't a trick? That you'll keep your word? … All of it?”

Frisch's mouth dips up on one side. “A simple matter. My office will create a contract, and we'll both stamp it before the flight.”

Akira grits his teeth. He wishes an answer would just come from without and take this terrible decision out of his hands. But that won't happen. It's up to him. All up to him. His thumb rubs the cross so fiercely that the knuckle has gone white. A vacation. Yes. Get away from Sayaka for a couple of days, see a part of the world he's never visited, collect his thoughts on everything. Not burden Misato with a parent-child project she never wanted to do anyway… score her a sizable scholarship instead. There's the matter of the wall, of course… Demolishing it at long last was his idea, his pet project, and it's only happening because he advocated it so passionately. People are coming together who haven't been in the same place for years, all to help him and his family. It would be better if he were there to see it through, and part of him has certainly looked forward to the event. But his presence isn't required. They can do it without him.

Akira's mouth opens and closes a couple of times before words finally escape his lips. “…… Make it so.”

Frisch seems to beam with delight. “So, then… I have your full cooperation?” After Akira fails to object, he says, “Excellent.” He produces a business card, flipping it over and scrawling a date and time on the back. “One of our vehicles will pick you up at your residence at this time and drive you to a private air strip outside Tokyo. Be reasonable about baggage, of course. A suitcase and handbag should suffice.” Further routine instructions are provided, and Akira scrawls any stand-outs in his pocket memo.

Once that's done with, Frisch pays the waitress and begins to quickly wrap things up. “I regret to say I am presently needed elsewhere, so I must depart.” He stands and extends his hand. They bowed the first time, so fair enough. “It was an absolute delight meeting with you, Dr. Katsuragi.”

Akira rises and returns the gesture. “Same. This was a very interesting eve—” He suddenly realizes that he's made his usual mistake of extending the left hand and quickly corrects.

Frisch emits an amused chuckle. “There's no need. For, you see,”—he retracts his right hand and extends the left—“I am actually sinistral myself.”

Interesting. How did he manage to not pick up on that? Preoccupied with too many other things, no doubt. Akira at last places his dominant hand within Frisch's, and a strong, steady shake follows. At first he's taken back to the similar handshake he received this past summer at DTNI. But there's a subtle difference in duration; while Frisch doesn't blatantly overstay his welcome, his hold is extended just long enough to register as odd.

Separating, Frisch says, “I shall see you on Friday then. I have great hopes for this trip, Dr. Katsuragi. There is little doubt in my mind that you will find it revelatory.”

“We will see,” Akira says. “We will see.”
Last edited by Reichu on Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Avatar: "That's right. I'm a gay robot." (David 8 image by Junseo)
Crying Man
(Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God): Read at AO3 & Discuss Here.
Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

"Fighting idiocy is like fighting a hydra. Cut off one head, two more grow back and need to tell you their uninformed opinion." - PeeJee, Something*Positive

NemZ
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby NemZ » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:38 am

Sorry, just haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe tomorrow.
Rest In Peace ~ 1978 - 2017
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:16 am

I look forward to it, Mr. Schlitt...

Ch. 14 (Pt. D)  SPOILER: Show
Akira quietly enters the entranceway. Hangs his coat, takes off his shoes. As he rounds the bend, he wearily loosens his tie and unbuttons the top of his shirt.

Sayaka is lying there on the loveseat, snoozing, a journal face-down over the armrest nearest her feet. Akira regards her cautiously. He sets his bag down without a sound and creeps into the kitchen. His nerves are fried and need some ointment. Tea. Yes, tea. He starts filling the kettle with water.

The sound of the faucet promptly stirs her. “…Akira?” she says in a groggy voice. “Oh, thank goodness. I was really getting worried.”

He sets the kettle onto the range and provides some heat. “Why?” There's little trace of emotion in his voice.

Sayaka sits up. “What do you mean, why? After what happened? And then you don't pick up your phone or call me back… Now you walk in”—she quickly consults the bird clock on the kitchen wall—“a whole three hours late. Of course I'd be worried!”

The admonition slides ride off him. Without a word, or even the slightest hint that Sayaka's concern matters, Akira wanders into the bedroom. He starts hanging his dress clothes and putting on casuals for the night. Though his back is turned to the fusuma, he can feel Sayaka's hot charcoal eyes burning into his naked skin.

“You aren't going to talk to me?” she says.

Akira hangs his dress pants. “What's there to say?”

“You can't even tell me what you were doing out so late?”

He looks over his shoulder. “Does it really matter?”

Sayaka sighs. “You're angry at me. Can we please talk about this?”

“Angry?” Akira repeats calmly, eyes fully averted. “Do I seem angry?”

“This isn't like you at all, Akira.” Cracks are appearing in Sayaka's voice. “You're scaring me.”

Akira pulls a T-shirt over his head and turns around, adjusting the arms. Once he's done, he at last looks her in the eyes, his expression unusually cold. “At least you're being honest with yourself now.” Before she can even react, he opens the fusuma enough to let him squeeze past her, then aloofly proceeds into the corridor.

Her voice calls after him. “How could you say such a thing, Akira? When have I been anything but honest with you?”

The words are like an iron fist upon his soul. He can hear cracks spread through the glassy membrane, feel the tiny shards turning inward. A bemused leer distorts his face. “Hah… You actually believe that, don't you?” His head swivels to the right so he can behold Sayaka's wall of cherished memories. It's just like before at his office: all these specters of the past have no purpose here but to mock him. In his mind's eye, he sees himself violently destroying them all, smashing the frames open and tearing the photographs within to pieces. Every piece of glass that maims his hands in the process is just a bonus — physical pain to distract him from the far worse pain within.

As his fingers curl up into his palms, so tightly that his hands shake, he's able to see through the thick fog of his memory, to that brief and painful time when he had yet to develop any sense of self control or inner decency, and the world around him was so terrible and beyond his ability to affect or even filter — and so his only recourse was to violently lash out at everything. He was so young and small it's in doubt how many of these are true memories, rather than inventions of his mind based almost entirely on second-hand anecdotes. Perhaps it doesn't really matter. All that really does is the swift realization that he doesn't want to go back there. Not to such a dark and distant place.

He's soon aware that Sayaka is speaking to him, and possibly has been the entire time. Rather than try to discover what he missed, he just keeps going. She'll surely follow, but he needs to get out of this narrow, dark, memory-encrusted space. He doesn't stop until he reaches the range. To his chagrin, the water hasn't boiled yet. He slumps against the wall and stares at the kettle vacantly, absorbed by his own distorted reflection. Sayaka soon appears on the chrome, but he doesn't react.

“Akira…” Quiet and inundated with worry. “I didn't mean to— I never wanted to hurt you. I already told you that I'm not perfect. It was a mistake. Reacting that way… A terrible mistake.”

His head hangs limply, forelocks veiling his eyes. “It doesn't matter if it was. You made your feelings perfectly obvious.”

“Akira…” She fumbles a moment for words. “Is it really the end of the world if I can't bring myself to ever… do that with you?”

“No…” He repositions himself, setting his back against the counter and cabinets and sliding his hands into his pockets. “I suppose not. Whatever happens here, the world will go on.”

“You know that's not what I—” Sayaka cuts herself off and turns away. “Maybe I'm hoping for too much too soon.” She takes a step away and lets one hand wrap around the other arm. “Maybe I should leave this alone. Just for a little while.”

Akira's face lifts up slightly. “Why not just go back to ignoring it? Never know. Maybe this time, it will go away for good.”

The spout of the kettle starts to murmur and shake.

“Why…?” Sayaka whispers. “Why are you doing this?”

He provides no response.

Sayaka starts rubbing the sides of her eyes. “Things you were saying before I left the hotel… Should I be worried, Akira? The way you are now… I can't stop worrying about what might have happened once I left.”

“Well, then… Did you consider that, perhaps, leaving me there was a bad idea?” His words, while cynical, are devoid of any passion.

“Maybe it was,” she concedes. “But I— I felt so terrible, Akira. I didn't know what else to do.” The tears at last escape from her. “If I stayed, I could have made it even worse for you. Of course it wasn't the right thing to do. By then, there was no right thing.”

She's doing her best. But it hurts. It hurts so much. Everything that emerges from her mouth just makes it worse. He doesn't want to cry again — there have already been so many tears today — but it seems inevitable. His face is scrunching and twisting in acute pain, betraying him as it always does. One of his hands escapes its hiding place, but it's so little to hide behind.

“I've…” he whimpers. “I've never betrayed you, Sayaka. That's one promise I have managed to keep, all this time. Sometimes I wa—” The piercing shriek of the kettle promptly drowns out his voice. As it rings in his ears, what he nearly said aloud resounds in his mind.

Sometimes I want to.

He takes the kettle off and pours the scalding hot water into his mug.

Hurt you.

Drops in the bag and watches with fascination as its contents bleed out.

Hurt myself.

He pulls the bag up by the string and squeezes it between his thumb and forefinger. Immediately, he feels the flesh of his fingertips begin to cook. But he doesn't care. He kind of likes it, actually. A nervous smirk seizes his mouth even as tears begin to fall.

“Akira…!” Sayaka cries.

Next thing he knows, she has wrapped around him from behind. His hand is suddenly in the sink, cold water running over it. He doesn't resist. If it makes her feel better, why not? Why not let her dote upon him again…

And yet, something in him resents it. Deeply.

“I'm just a child to you,” he sputters, reclaiming his hand and twisting out of her embrace. “You've never really seen me as an equal. Just an overgrown boy for you to baby.”

Sayaka shuts off the water. Frowning, she responds, “Where in the world did that come from?” Shaking her head, she adds, “I'm tempted to channel our daughter here.”

“Meaning, what?”

“If you don't want to be treated like a baby, don't act like one.”

He laughs oddly. Yes, that is just the sort of thing Misato would say. To her mother, of course. Never directly to him. How he wishes she would. Just dig into him with her talons and say exactly what she thinks, show him the depths of unrepentant cruelty he knows she possesses. “Where is Misato…?”

Sayaka's frown deepens. “She told you this morning where she'd be.”

Oh, of course. This morning. Pleasant family breakfast. Feels like a lifetime ago. So remote from the present that it's only natural his brain didn't even consider that what Misato told him then would still be applying now. He can remember it clearly. Martial arts practice, then studying with Kei and the others. “I suppose she did.” He stares at his fingers where the skin is starting to turn white and blistered. Another odd laugh escapes him. “Speaking of Misato… I have good news for her, whenever she gets back.”

Sayaka's expression seems to lighten. “Good news? Why didn't you mention it soo—”

“She doesn't have to put up with me this weekend after all.” The sides of his mouth are stretched in an exaggerated, uneasy smirk. “She can just interview Risa like she wanted to in the first place.”

Sayaka's shock is palpable. “Akira… what are you talking about? What do you mean??”

Akira sucks on the wounded flesh for a moment, in no hurry to respond. Just as slowly, he stows his hand back into its pocket. “You wanted to know what I was doing tonight, yes?” Her silence signals an affirmative. “Someone from the United Nations called me at my office. A different person than before. Someone much more important. He wanted to talk ASAP.” He looks into Sayaka's eyes coldly. “I said yes.”

She seems to flinch. With a lost expression, she wanders to the table and collapses into one of the chairs. “So, then… What else? That's not all.”

“You're right.” He joins her, pulling one of the chairs out a half-meter. “It's not.” He sits belly to back with it, arms slung loosely over to provide a prop for his head. “They want me to tour one of their overseas facilities this weekend. Trying to coax me into taking the next step. I agreed to go.”

Her face immediately becomes stern as stone. “I'm the one you're angry at!” Sayaka rises, emphatically slamming her palms onto the table. “Don't you dare take this out on Misato!!”
“Misato?” An uncanny laugh. “The daughter who hates my guts? Who probably couldn't care less if I were dead? I'm doing her a favor.”

Sayaka's consternation rises. “You're sabotaging all the progress you've made, for what? What, Akira?” There's fire behind her eyes.

Akira feels strangely unaffected. “I'm serious. I am doing her a favor.”

“How in the world does this benefit her?”

“I did tell the representative about my plans. But he was insistent that it be this weekend. To the point that he'll compensate us.” He looks away. “A scholarship, for Misato. A ridiculously big one.”

The flame rapidly dies. “A scholarship…?” Sayaka presses her knuckles to her lips. “How much?”

“480,000.”

Sayaka's speechless.

“That's Misato's tuition, right there. …… And it's just one weekend, Sayaka. All I have to do is go. Nothing else.”

“This isn't right,” she says. “There's something just not right about this.”

“It's fine. I won't do anything without stamping a contract.”

She nibbles gently on her hand, lost to thought. “The sense of timing is…”

“…terrible,” he agrees. “I know.”

Sayaka stands up and starts pacing. “You know you don't have to do this, Akira. If we still don't have the money by then, Yura and my parents will—”

Akira scoffs at that. “Yes, of course. They're always on stand-by to bail out this family from my ineptitude. Doubtless your parents will sternly remind you that the situation ultimately stems from your own failure to marry an actual man.”

“And so what if they do?”

He keeps going, unperturbed. “Yura… She'll have her usual sisterly advice. Latest recommendations on divorce procedure, perhaps.”

Sayaka freezes. Rather than respond to Akira's goading, she simply mouths, “Yura…” Anguish abruptly seizes her face and she clutches her brow. It looks like she's about to cry again.

It doesn't matter if she does or not. Making Sayaka cry is just something he does. Today seems to be a new record, though, for her actually breaking down in front of him, instead of maintaining her front long enough to bleed out later, in private. Might as well expedite things. “Oh, so she already did? Splendid.”

“Stop it!” she hisses through clenched teeth. “Stop being such a brat! You're better than this!”

“Am I?” he says. “Am I really?”

“I've seen you at your worst again and again… I can't even remember the last time you were like this.”

“I guess you weren't actually seeing me at my worst. Perhaps, even now, you're not.”

She turns her back to him. “I don't know what happened between you and Yura. She's critical of you, yes. But she's the same toward me. You don't think she's hard on me, too?” Sayaka laughs. “She's always said the things I needed to hear but never wanted to. That's the real reason I've always respected her. … That's why you stopped talking, isn't it? Because she wouldn't leave the tender subjects alone.”

“It hardly matters anymore,” he says, weaving his fingers together.

Another tepid, nervous laugh. “I finally remembered.” Her body sways with unease. “Back in the hotel… What pushed you over the edge.”

Everything is now such a blur that he can't isolate any one thing over the others. It was all terrible. He wrings his hands and waits with bated breath.

“It was when I asked you if there was anything you'd never told me. Wasn't it?”

He shrugs ineffectually. But, realizing she won't see that, he provides a “Could be.”

“You took it very badly. But I swear I didn't mean for—” Her head drops, and everything about her body language implies a deeply felt shame. “I wasn't trying to imply anything.” She turns back to him, and her face is solemn as can be. “I was preoccupied… with something I shouldn't have been…”

Akira feels his patience thinning. “What, Sayaka?”

It doesn't help. “I shouldn't have said anything then. Yura told me not to, and she was right. It was a mistake.”

Again with Yura…? Finally, he puts two and two together. “Your lunch didn't actually go fine, did it?” Sayaka's silence speaks volumes. “Why did you lie about that?”

“I didn't want to ruin everything! It wasn't anything that couldn't have waited until later.”

But you couldn't wait… He frowns deeply and bites his lip. Sayaka had already been upset about something. It wasn't his imagination after all. Why did he let himself disregard it? He should've forgotten about the gift and pressed her to open up to him. Then, maybe… maybe…

…Maybe we could have cried about something else instead. “What was it, Sayaka?”

“Eh?” she asks, disoriented. “What was—”

He rises, concealing his hands once more. “What was it that came up during lunch? Something you feel I've been keeping from you…?” It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Yura blurted out something she shouldn't have. He's sure she didn't mean to. All the same, mishaps like this only reinforce the idea that cutting ties with her — or falling out of touch, or whatever actually happened — was for the best.

Sayaka takes her sweet time replying. “Too much has already happened today, Akira. I don't want to make things any worse by dredging this up.”

Akira sighs. “Then why did you mention it at all?”

“I— I didn't want you to have the wrong idea.”

“Well, how am I supposed to have the right idea if you won't tell me what was actually bothering you in the first place?” Irritation is seeping into his voice, of a nature far more honed than his flailing earlier. What an absolute mess this all is. How much of her reaction to his present wasn't actually about the present at all? Is there any real way to find out that doesn't risk aggravating the misunderstandings?

“You really want to know, Akira?” she says, posed almost like a challenge.

“Of course I do!”

Sayaka staggers toward him. Before he can decide how to react, she grabs him by the collar and pushes her face into his shirt. Quite suddenly, her breathing goes ragged and warm tears soak into the fabric.

“Why…?” she sobs.

He wants to get away. Far away. He struggles out, but she just grabs him from behind, pushing her nose into the groove of his back, her grip on his arms vice-like and fast approaching pain. She won't let him escape. Not this time.

In a quiet, pitiful voice, she says, “Why didn't you ever tell me, Akira? That you… you…” Her chest heaves and inarticulate pain flees her throat. “That you wanted a second child?”

Akira feels a chill go down his spine.

“Why was it something only Yura got to hear?” She's weeping. “I never asked, because I felt so bad about what I put you through… I didn't deserve another. I had no right to impose that on your again. But—but if I'd known it was something you wanted, too, then… Then maybe Misato could've had a—”

He stands there, frozen, saying nothing.

“Maybe we could've had our Kaworu.”

His cross calls to him, but he can't answer.

“And instead, all this time, you've let me believe—” She gasps for air. “I've been left believing that you hate me for what I did. Left thinking that, deep down, you harbor a deep resentment for me.” Another deep breath. “No, not just me. Misato too…”

The strength at last starts to leave her; he can feel her slumping, her grip loosening. Akira's left hand immediately takes advantage, lunging for the pendant and clinging fiercely around it.

“You— you tried so hard to hide whatever you were feeling…” Sayaka sniffs. “But that— that thing you did to yourself—” After all this time, she can't even bring herself to say its name. “It spoke more clearly than words ever could.”

At last, Akira feels a fierce urge to speak. He wiggles free and faces her. “Sayaka, tell me: was I even remotely like myself when I got that done? Of course not. I was completely out of my mind!”

Sayaka glances away and wraps her arms across her chest. “Yes. Maybe it wasn't something you would normally do. But why would you do it at all if there was no enmity there?” The accusing, pitiful dark eyes turn back. “You went out of your way to keep it secret. The way you were acting, I thought you were seeing someone else. Do you have any idea what that's like, Akira?”

Akira doesn't remember that time very well at all — it was at least eight years ago, and confusing in every possible way — but apparently it's when Sayaka's own lapses into melancholy became a habitual thing. He knows what deepest melancholy is like. Intimately. But that's not what she's asking about, is it? While he has frequently worried about being abandoned by her, he's never actually harbored suspicions of infidelity. He can imagine it, maybe, if he puts his mind to it, but he's never actually been there. “No, Sayaka, I don't. Thanks to you, I don't.” He tries to sound grateful…

…but she either doesn't notice or doesn't care. “It's the most terrible feeling in the world, Akira. I've never felt more miserable than I did then. I felt so worthless I could have even—” She bites down on her words and looks away abruptly.

Is she trying to emotionally manipulate him? “How much more groveling for forgiveness do you want, Sayaka?” he snaps. “It wouldn't have been madness if I had any idea what was happening! I feel terrible about what I put you through, but it's over and done with and there's nothing I can do to change what happened. Nothing!” Tears of frustration are starting to spill onto his cheeks.

A silence sprouts and begins to grow. He can't bear it, so he starts talking without thinking. “What do you want me to do, Sayaka? Get the surgery reversed? Make sure we fertilize a second egg before your supply runs dry?” His gesticulations get increasingly frenzied. “This won't come at the expense of your revived career plans, of course. I'll happily give up everything to be a stay-at-home dad.” There's such a strong edge of cynicism and spite to his voice, it's nearly unrecognizable.

Sayaka is a mess of tears. “I know you can't be serious, but… Part of me thinks it would be a lovely idea. The other knows it's too late.”

“Of course,” he sputters. “Of course it's too late.” He seeks out his tea, but it never brewed completely. The tea bag is lying in the sink. He throws the mug into the microwave for a couple of minutes and gives the bag a quick rinse. As he sets it down onto a saucer, something occurs to him. “Tonight wouldn't have gone half as terrible if you hadn't assumed so much from something Yura said. …Or that you claim she said, even.”

Sayaka finishes blowing her nose into a sheet of paper towel. “I'm sorry. I… I got carried away, didn't I? I knew I shouldn't have said anything. I just keep messing up.”

He's tempted to provide bitter affirmation, but something stops him. No more games. The record needs to be set straight. “I'm pretty sure I know which conversation Yura was referencing, based on what you've said.” The water finishes reheating, and at last he drops the tea bag within the cup — actually leaving it there this time. “I never said flat-out that I wanted another child.”

Sayaka stares at her feet, seemingly paralyzed by guilt.

“Here's how it actually went,” Akira says, slowly agitating his tea with a spoon. “I told her that I was becoming more comfortable with the idea of fatherhood. Yura joked that I might eventually come around to the idea of having another. So I laughed and said, 'Maybe'.” He sets the cup aside. “That's it. That's the stunning revelation you were deprived of. Absolutely nothing of any substance that you didn't already know long before Yura did.”

Sayaka looks confused. “So, why did Yura mention 'Kaworu'…?”

Akira shrugs. “I might've said something about using the name if a second ever happened, since it didn't get used the first time around. Nothing but an aside. If it was even mentioned at all.”

“Oh.” She continues to stand there, looking utterly lost and exposed. “So… what now?”

He has absolutely no answer to that question. His mind is utterly drained. “I'm going to drink my tea and go to bed.”

“So that's it? There's nothing more to say?”

“If there is,” Akira says wearily, “I'd prefer to say it another time.”

Sayaka plays with her braid, her foot shuffling back and forth. “This weekend… There's no talking you out of it. Is there?”

Akira sighs. “How about this: I'll let Misato decide. If she wants me to stay, I'll stay.”

She exhales sharply in scorn. “That hardly changes anything. You already know what she'll say.”

“So, then, Misato's feelings aren't an important consideration?”

Sayaka gives him a patronizing look. “Of course they are. Which is precisely why you can't trust what she says. She'll act like she doesn't care one way or another, because that's how she protects herself from being hurt again. You know that. There's nothing I could possibly tell you here that you don't already know.”

“Maybe,” he says. “But maybe trying to fight this has been a mistake. Maybe I am exactly the kind of person she thinks I am. Getting to know me better would only confirm what she already knows. So, really, there's no point.”

Sayaka frowns. “Who's making assumptions now?” She starts crying again, very quietly. “So that's it, then? You really are just going to throw away the past month, aren't you?”

Why is she dragging this on? His first instinct is to just ignore her. The tea is cool enough now. He starts drinking. It's decidedly imperfect, but he'll take anything at this point.

“Why are you letting what happened today destroy everything you've worked so hard to build? I don't understand, Akira.”

The rest of the mug's contents drain down his throat and he sets the cup into the sink. “It's quite simple. The past month was the product of delusion. Today, my eyes were opened.”

Sayaka starts to quaver with understated ire, her grief escaping from her, one thick drop after another. At length, she wipes off her face and somberly says, “So it's like everyone's been telling me all these years… There really is no hope for us after all.” Turning on her heel, she says, “Do what you want”, then slumps off to their room.

And then, Akira is alone again.

At first, he doesn't feel a thing. His emotions are an unreadable void. Physiological demands drag him into the bathroom, where he brushes his teeth and obtains urinary relief. Then those same needs crave a bed to sleep in. The one he shares with Sayaka is out of the question. Spare futon it is. But he doesn't really want to meet a rude awakening from Misato, either. He carries it into the study and rolls it out onto the cramped strip of floor. Finally, he lets himself drop.

There, in the dimness, some unseen force begins to squeeze at his chest. He tries to ignore it, but, the more he does, the harder the pressure becomes. Before long, something inside him bursts. It could be his heart, for how dead he feels inside.

It's the same as before: insufferable pain in spite of the void. The sensation emanating from his chest is beyond description. It's like he's exploded from the inside and everything is spilling out. He curls up into himself, as tightly as he can, and soon feels warm liquid pain bleeding onto his knees.

In the distance, he hears someone cry, and his own voice violently bursts free to join it in a duet of anguish.


NEXT TIME  SPOILER: Show
Akira and Frisch travel to the Qumran region of West Bank, where ARQA Base waits for them in the midst of the desert. As Akira tours the facility, Frisch wrestles with the unusual circumstances creating serious delays for excavation and research. Just what monumental and unprecedented discovery is being unearthed there? What secrets lurk within that ramshackle structure? What exactly does Frisch have planned for Dr. Katsuragi? A fated encounter awaits…

Next Time, “The Spear of Destiny”


Notes  SPOILER: Show
A very dense chapter. There's so much information there's probably no possible way it will all make sense the first time around. But that's fine. It's all part of the design…

- So we now have the names of Akira's folks: Kazuo and Chika. I can't remember their origins precisely. Might've asked the #egf IRC channel for suggestions, just to mix it up a bit.

- Akira's comment about given name kanji being abolished after WWII is, of course, a nod to the fact that no Eva character has a personal name provided in anything other than katakana. Might as well just make it part of this alternative universe!

- The kanji that Akira's parents would have used is 明. There are meanings beyond the one(s) he divulged, but I'm not sure they matter as much.

- The concept of ISTAA's symbol being a “brain-tree” wasn't originally in “Temptation”, but it will be added retroactively. There will be more to say on this matter at a later time.

- “Lukas von Frisch” comes from Karl von Frisch, an Austrian ethologist who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Konrad Lorenz (namesake of Kiel Lorenz, natch) and some other guy. He did a lot of work on the honeybee “waggle” dance. (This particular aspect didn't make it into the character in any meaningful way, but I suppose it's not too late for a cheeky reference somewhere.) The “Lukas” part was a result of me making a list of ship parts in German and then seeing if any actual real given names were reasonably close, to avoid the oft-noted “Kiel” problem. Luke means “hatch”.

- There was some material set between the end of the dinner meeting and Akira arriving home. Due to this chapter being a bloated monstrosity as is, it has been excised for the time being. If its absence becomes felt, it will be reinstated.

- The final scene may have some tonal irregularities as a result of being patchworked together from various sources, along with the difficulties inherent in showcasing an “unhinged” Akira for the first time. I can only hope that these will be gradually discovered and corrected.

- Does that "Next Time" give away too much? It totally gives away too much.


After this, updates will instead be posted to Archive of Our Own. Note that, in the process of porting the previous chapters, the first six have been compressed down into two, and subsequent chapter numbers all shift down as a result. Starting with the next chapter, I'll be using the shifted numbers. Confusing, yes, but better to get this over with now than put it off for even later.
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Seele00TextOnly » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:24 pm

Absolutely awesome stuff Reichu.
Check out my AMVs: Kaji/Misato in "18 Apostolos" & Kaworu and the Harpies in "The Beast That Shouted 'I' at the Heart of the World" w/ music by Esselfortium!!
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby NemZ » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:17 pm

Hmm... interesting things going on for certain!

I struggled a bit with part one, as it did feel a bit ponderous and overwrought... but then again if he's in a depressive swing then that sort of melodramatic edgelord vibe makes sense. I kept wanting to just get to the damn point and stop obsessing on all the little details, sort of the literary version of that ep24 crush scene. Considering that's exactly Akira's problem this feels appropriate. Hiding the phone though, really? Come on man... you don't get to do that and then later complain about Sayaka being in denial with all her happy photos.

The dinner meeting was great though, and I really dug this wily old bastard. I like how he can so effortlessly switch between crafty and direct both in prodding and in covering his tracks. I have to wonder how much of that bratwurst blowjob was actually happening and how much was Akira's wild imaginations, but a damn effective tactic regardless. Between that and an upcoming chapter titled 'the spear of destiny' I wonder just how far down that road Herr Frisch is planning to go on this little desert vacation concerning phallic objects.

That whole final scene was brutal as hell. Game over, everyone loses. The abrupt change in his demeanor is striking though, so if the excised material mentioned in your notes concerns that shift I would recommend bringing it back. And holy crap, all of this happened in a single day?
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Literary Eagle » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:16 pm

Wow, some very interesting developments! And I probably enjoyed that bit with the bratwurst way more than I should have. :D

Hmm... Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered? Oh my, I wonder what they're up to at this ARQA Base? Looking forward to the next chapter!
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:54 pm

Seele00TextOnly: o^_^o

NemZ: Hooray! Glad you're enjoying it. The next chapter definitely will be... different. :devil:

The long introspective section is something I struggled with for a good while. I felt that exploring his mental state before proceeding was a must, but deciding how to structure something like that, and what exactly to include... it's definitely difficult. It probably won't be possible to say how much of that section is chaff until we get a bit further along in the story and additional context is provided.

Heh, if you thought him hiding the phone was bad, one take on the scene had him dumping the present, the phone, and all the desk photos (except for one; take a guess which) into the back of a drawer and locking it. This ran counter to my own devious plans, though.

I had a feeling you would appreciate Frisch. Dunno why. :3 (Muggy had a similar sentiment, calling him a "delightful creation".) Next chapter shouldn't disappoint in that respect. Far as the bratwurst BJ goes, I'm not even sure how much of that was really happening. XD

Seele00TextOnly noted the problem with the final scene, too. It occurs to me that Akira's inner monologue is conspicuously absent when the scene starts, and then abruptly appears when he's thinking about the photos. Correcting that discrepancy would provide opportunity to reintroduce some of the emotional content of what was cut. I'll mess around and see what happens.

Literary Eagle: Heh, I actually just updated my hard copy so that Frisch does mention the Dead Sea Scrolls when he brings Qumran up. :kawaii:
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:52 pm

Three notes I forgot the first time around:

SPOILER: Show
- Frisch's reaction to Kimiko's fate was prompted by NemZ's own in-thread reaction to the same after “The Crossroads”: “It's simply a fact, dogs make life better.”

- “ARQA” is a playful reference to a discarded NGE concept that appears in both the Proposal and the BGM menu (the latter published in S² Works). Apparently it would have been some kind of ruins, or the site thereof, that played a significant role in the ending. “Arka” is a common and more obvious rendition of the katakana アルカ (ARUKA), but in all likelihood it's supposed to be “Arqa”.

- The left-handed shake here was a very spur-of-the-moment thing. I'm not sure if I had previously established in my mind for a certainty that Frisch was also a lefty (sinister, they called them in Latin), but it was too perfect to resist. I only learned after writing it in that the left-handed shake is something adopted by the Scouts and has a bit of associated symbolism that could be called both ironic and fortuitous.

I've noticed more places where the chapter needs fixes. Revisions will be made when I upload "Tension" to AO3 and noted here.

How did I ever get it in my head that setting an arc of this story in one of the world's great political clusterfucks was a good idea? Time to go harass Gob Hobblin for pointers...
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(Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God): Read at AO3 & Discuss Here.
Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

"Fighting idiocy is like fighting a hydra. Cut off one head, two more grow back and need to tell you their uninformed opinion." - PeeJee, Something*Positive

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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:19 am

Just read the Prelude, that was beautiful.

So, what Akira sees here is the lumped image Adam with Spear sticking through it from the Reiquarium, is that correct?

Other than that bit of curiosity on my part, this is exceptionally written. :)
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:04 pm

Just read the first two chapters of the Germany prolog. It's interesting stuff so far. I particularly liked the "NGE-isms" with the elevator and Dr. K lying in bed looking up at the celing.

I am a tad confused about the lecture though (probably mainly due to my own ignorance/lack of research with regard to the Wiki and CI files)...

Mainly, how could Akira know about the S2 organ before discovering Adam or have a concept of Dirac Sea (aren't these both Angel manifestations?)? I guess then, that finding Adam was kind epic bias confirmation with regard to his own theories, hence his excitement in the discovery?

Like I said, despite my confusion over some of the details, this is pretty great stuff so far. Thank you :)
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:05 pm

I just finished the third part (Chapter 3?)of the Germany prolog. For some reason, I got a vibe of Misato, Ritsuko, and Kaji (in my head, I could even hear Ritsu's theme in the background as the scene seemed to evoke the same feeling).

My only thing here is, Why is Adrian just sort of okay with his wife oogling Akira?

As a side note, your description of Akira sounds hot! And if he's a quasi-adult version of Kaworu, well then hot damn :devil:
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:31 pm

Ooo, a new reader! :kawaii: Thank you for your comments! What prompted you to start, out of curiosity?

Just FYI, the most current versions of the chapters are over at AO3. I guess I forgot to update the opening post with this information, but in the meantime it's in my sig. To address your questions/comments:

  • The state of Adam in the flash-forward is based on that Reiquarium image, indeed. I thought Adam's pose resembled a drowning victim, so I made the excavation site an underground lake, possibly the White Moon homologue of what Eva-01 and -02 fall into in episode 24. When the story finally catches up and Akira's first time seeing Adam plays out again, a lot is going to be different and I'm sure the prelude itself is going to be rewritten for the sake of consistency and better setting the stage for all that is to come. Is there anything about the chapter you think works especially well and should survive the revision process? ;)
  • Understanding the lecture isn't really necessary, since it's pretty much all gobbledygook. That said, at least some amount of soft sci-fi logic went into it, and I tried to reconstruct what the show seems to be going for as best as I could. What I came up with: "super solenoid theory" refers to a hypothetical means of using a structure called a "super solenoid" and its accompanying system -- an engine, reactor, organ, whatever -- to channel energy out of the Dirac Sea into more traditionally usable form. (The Dirac Sea is an actual physics concept that I only understand in the most abstract of ways. NGE seems to be doing its own thing with it, as well. All we really need to know are that string theory, and accordingly the "higher dimensions" hidden from our senses and experience, are involved.) The super solenoid is shaped like a double helix for... reasons (something to do with their "solenoid" namesake, I assume). The toroidal ("donut") configuration comes from both Ramiel's "torus reactor" and Armisael's initial appearance.
  • The dialogue in episode 21' strongly implies that the S2 theory existed prior to Adam's discovery and just so happens to explain the giant's source of power. The story will, in time, address all relevant angles of this amazing coincidence.
  • I'm tempted to explain what's going on with Adrian and Kyoko, but there's the possibility that one or both will eventually show up again, so... :devil:
  • Yep, Akira is supposed to be pants-wetting hot. I really suck at drawing him, to my chagrin, but his overall look is pretty common in anime and manga, so getting an accurate mental image shouldn't be too difficult. Take Kaworu's face, scale it to adult proportions (we want long, narrow, and angular), add a couple of decades' worth of world-weariness, change the colors, and cut the hair.

In general Crying Man news, I've once again active on the writing front, and am currently undergoing the tiresome but necessary process of transcribing so many sticky-noted pages of handwritten notes.
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:26 am

Huh. Did I scare him off...?

Since the next chapter is taking forever -- on account of me deciding to just type up EVERYTHING in my many notebooks that has anything to do with the story prior to Part II (Antarctica), because I might as well get it the hell over with --, I guess I'll throw some drawings at the thread.

- Sketches of Adam. (Yes, Adam will eventually be part of this story.) Includes a (very) rough schematic of my attempt to make sense of this familiar image. The bowl-shaped area at the top is what's been scooped out of the lake by that time. The line below Adam and the Spear indicates the bottom of the lake bed, which is deepest in the middle and gets shallower toward the shores.

- Couple of my better attempts to draw Akira. The one that appears first is from yesterday, and the second was actually posted in this thread at one point in lazy photograph form. Further refinement is needed, but at least it's something.
First image also includes a close-up of Adam's face in situ (as it was discovered). Expression isn't quite right, but meh. The identity of the kid is for me to know and for everyone else to maybe possibly find out eventually.

(Next order of business is to just practice human expressions, because I'm some 16 years out of practice and I really want a good picture of the crying man, well, crying.)
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Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Rei IV » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:48 pm

Those are some pretty neat drawings, Reichu. Interesting to see Adam is seemingly more humanoid, compared to his sister, Lilith/Rei, who looks more blobbish. Also, DAT Akira sketch. My God, not only do I see Kaworu but I SWEAR I see a bits of Kaji in him. WHAT DOES IT MEAN???!!!!

:cringe:

BTW, Akira in the last chapter really comes across as a insensitive asshole/dick. I guess he isn't always the sad loser I envisioned him to be!
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby NemZ » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:17 pm

Heh, long hair sneaking in on that far right Akira sketch. Almost needs bishi-sparkles.
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Reichu » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:14 am

View Original PostRei IV wrote:Also, DAT Akira sketch. My God, not only do I see Kaworu but I SWEAR I see a bits of Kaji in him. WHAT DOES IT MEAN???!!!!

That my design for him is hitting the intended notes, I suppose!

Akira in the last chapter really comes across as a insensitive asshole/dick. I guess he isn't always the sad loser I envisioned him to be!

He just needs a big hug. And to see a psychiatrist. BTW, did you read the whole chapter? I would've expected you to have more to say about it...

NemZ: You talking about the one I cropped out? Those are just redundant sketch lines for the neck. Though, you did plant a terrible idea in my head... After many long, sad hours of trying, here's what I got:

SPOILER: Show
Image

He's college-aged here, since that's the last time he had longer hair. I think I was trying to pattern it after manga Kaworu somewhat, but the way it's tossed here ended up framing his face in just the right way to give a weird male!Yui vibe. (Which... isn't totally inappropriate, I guess?) Didn't notice the weird bulge at the base of the left thumb until after I'd scanned it, so... bleh. I'll fix it after I get a new art tablet and can thereupon get into all sorts of newfound mayhem. Like a properly sparkly color version of this I can use as an avatar.
Avatar: "That's right. I'm a gay robot." (David 8 image by Junseo)
Crying Man
(Or, How Dr. Katsuragi Found God): Read at AO3 & Discuss Here.
Status: First Draft. Chapter 10: Idle Hands released 5/24/2017.

"Fighting idiocy is like fighting a hydra. Cut off one head, two more grow back and need to tell you their uninformed opinion." - PeeJee, Something*Positive

Rei IV
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby Rei IV » Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:42 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:He just needs a big hug. And to see a psychiatrist. BTW, did you read the whole chapter? I would've expected you to have more to say about it...

Unfortunately, I didn't. I just skimmed through. But now that you've put your story on Archive Of Our Own, it will be MUCH easier to (re-)read and catch up. Poor Akira. He really needs to see a psychiatrist, unfortunately in the time period he's in, that would mean a trip to the mountains.
"Books? If I were Ayanami Rei, would I read books?"

SawItAtAge10
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Re: [Fic] Crying Man (Or, How Misato's Dad Found God)

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:14 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:Huh. Did I scare him off...?


Hey Reichu,

I am so so sorry for not getting back to you. I kinda got super side tracked...The thing is, I'm sort of knee deep in school stuff/my thesis at the moment. But, from what I've read of your fic thus far, I think it's all really great. Plus, these new illustrations are amazing! It's all very interesting...I'm curious though, the website where the story is posted, is purely text based, or does it allow for pictures to be posted along with the text. If that's the case, do you have any plans on incorporating images so as to make this more of a multi-media type experience?
FROM EVANGELION:
"Acts of Man are greater than acts of God!"

"I'm saying that I love you."

NOT FROM EVANGELION:
"You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold."


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